On Friday night, I popped to the shops for some more milk. We get our food delivered, so going to an actual shop is a novelty. A guilty habit of mine is to walk up and down every single aisle, just to see what is on the shelves. I filled my basket with a few extra treats to have during my week off, and headed to the check out to pay. I got my purse out, and was rummaging around for my nectar card, when I noticed a card that I didn’t recognise. I pulled it out, it was white, and I was half expecting it to be my Boots advantage card.
Instead I felt frozen, as grief and sadness has descended on me. I had pulled out my maternity exemption card from my pregnancy with Cecil & Wilfred. It expired two weeks ago.
The maternity exemption card entitles you to free prescriptions for the duration of your pregnancy, and up to a year after the birth of your baby. Except my babies were born far too early, and this card is a reminder of their absence.
Instead of chasing round after identical one year olds, I am to spend my time going back and forwards to my fertility clinic, having intimate scans, and injecting myself with hormones so I can once again attempt to be a mother.
With so few physical tokens from my pregnancy and my sons, this card will be stored away with other keepsakes. It is a reminder that it was all real. That Cecil & Wilfred were both real. I rarely look at these mementos, but I am comforted by knowing they exist and I could indulge in them if I wanted.
The thing with grief, is that is appears from nowhere. It creeps up on you, when you least expect it, and drags you back down to the depths of despair. One day you feel like you are coping, and something comes along, and reminds you of the pain you hold inside you.
Standing at the check out, I felt a wave of sadness when I imagined how my life could have looked. 20 sticky fingers to wipe, 2 bodies to tuck into bed, toys to pick up off the floor, 2 set of clothes to wash and iron, 2 mouths to feed with new weaning recipes. Instead of new friends at mum and baby groups, I have new friends from a local fertility group.
I am mid way through my 5th round of IVF. After getting pregnant on our first attempt, I never thought we would need so many rounds to make our family. Whilst on the fertility rollercoaster I try to push everything else to the side, and focus on the gruelling IVF process. Dwelling on the sadness of our sons’ wasted lives is too much to bear whilst also willing my ovaries to make eggs.
At each scan, where I hear that my follicle count is very low, I have to try and concentrate on what could be, instead of what could have been. The subtle difference between those two phrases is the difference between being held back by grief, or by taking grief with you.
I rarely cry anymore, mainly because the physical effort involved seems too much. It is much easier to focus on the good that entered my life because of Cecil & Wilfred, rather than concentrating on the pain caused by their death.
Over the last sixteen months since we said both hello and goodbye to our boys my heart has begun to heal. The last 3 years have battered and bruised me, and I no longer recognise myself. I can’t tell you the point at which waking up ceased to be a torment, but somewhere between last April and now I no longer dread the moment that my eyes open each morning. The fog has begun to lift, and I feel better equipped to cope with life.
But there will always be moments, like at 9pm on a Friday night in Sainsbury’s, where I am floored by my love for them both.